Friends of Santa Fe Trail recently presented ideas for a trail master plan to the Dallas Park and Recreation Board.

The Santa Fe Trail passes through four City Council districts and connects White Rock Lake to Deep Ellum and the Central Business District.

The purpose of the briefing was to show the board what has gone into the master plan so far. Board members expressed approval for the plan, so now the project has to be funded. After funds are identified, the planning, designing and building can begin.

Samuel Mortimer, who’s on the board of the friends group, said they have received plenty of public feedback on potential trail improvements. Through surveys, tabling, public presentations and more, the friends group received responses from residents in dozens of ZIP codes.

Landscape architectural firm Studio Outside came up with options for the improvements. The firm recommends several features to be implemented throughout the trail: safety, lighting, branding and art, water, seating and gathering, planting, wayfinding and education.

Studio Outside identified three main zones of the trail — urban, prairie and forest — each with unique purposes and elements.

Around Downtown, Deep Ellum and Fair Park, the trail could be used to facilitate connections to major destinations in the city.

In certain places along the trail, there’s room to support nearby parks and neighborhoods and increase native planting. Signage and seating could be added near neighborhood entrances to the trail.

Santa Fe Trail master plan presentation to Dallas Park Board.

The trail could have better, safer connections to parks to allow residents to experience nature and take advantage of all the city’s amenities.

In addition to the trail-wide recommendations, Studio Outside identified seven specific locations for interventions: Tokalon Park trailhead, Old Rail Bridge Overlook, Grand Avenue overpass, Brookside overpass, Glasgow trailhead, “T” intersection park and Deep Ellum and Fair Park gateways.

Here are some of the ideas Studio Outside suggested.

  • The Deep Ellum and Fair Park areas would be a great place to create art parks and other chances for cultural experiences.
  • Event space could be provided near the Brookside overpass.
  • The Grand Avenue overpass provides room for art installations, green space, events and food trucks.
  • The old rail bridge could be restored and serve as a gathering space for trail users.


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